The FINRA Foundation Military Spouse Fellowship Program offers free financial counseling accreditation to military spouses so they may in turn provide financial counseling and education to fellow members of the military community. (Photo Credit: Ms. Mary Ann Davis (IMCOM))
The FINRA Foundation Military Spouse Fellowship Program offers free financial counseling accreditation to military spouses so they may in turn provide financial counseling and education to fellow members of the military community. (Photo Credit: Ms. Mary Ann Davis (IMCOM))

Military spouses can boost job skills with free finance certification

by Erinn Burgess
U.S. Army

KAISERSLAUTERN, Germany -- Now through April 19, military spouses can apply for the opportunity to earn a free financial counselor accreditation to help them find employment at any military installation or in the civilian sector.

The FINRA Foundation Military Spouse Fellowship Program offers this career-enhancing credential to military spouses so they may in turn provide financial counseling and education to fellow members of the military community.

The program provides a clear pathway for participants to obtain an Accredited Financial Counselor designation, said Jennifer Chambers, a Baumholder military spouse who is currently enrolled in the program.

"The fellowship provides participants with textbooks, an exam study guide and an online webinar review course. The curriculum is comprehensive and has given me a broad understanding of financial issues that families regularly encounter," Chambers said.

Chambers and her family are moving back to the States this summer, but she'll be able to take her AFC designation with her to pursue career opportunities at their next location.

"I am hopeful that the skills and knowledge I have gained from the program will enable me to find suitable employment," Chambers said. "In the future, I hope to work as an accredited financial counselor and educator within the military community."

Alicia Hernandez, a Kaiserslautern military spouse, is also enrolled in the program and hopes to gain future employment as a financial counselor with Army Community Service after she receives her certification.

"The accredited financial counseling certificate earned from this course will help me break into the financial counseling field, which is what I am hoping to do. The volunteer hours that are required with the program will also give me the experience and background to be able to work with individuals in regards to their finances," Hernandez said.

"With each Permanent Change of Station move, military spouses often have to reinvent themselves in regards to their career," Hernandez said. The more skills military spouses can add to their résumés, the more it helps with their career searches, she explained.

The AFC designation is a gateway for military spouses to have a flexible and portable career while their Soldier or Airman serves on active duty, said Kristin James, Army Community Service Financial Readiness Program manager and accredited financial counselor.

Two members of the ACS Financial Readiness Team are fellowship alumni. James said "one of those spouses has worked in the industry for over eight years across three PCS moves because she obtained the AFC certification."

"Obtaining the AFC certification takes time and effort to pass the national exam and to build the necessary counseling hours, but it's an investment in yourself and it can definitely pay off," James concluded.

Since it began, the FINRA Foundation Military Spouse Fellowship Program has provided more than 1,530 military spouses the opportunity to earn the AFC certification. Those interested in applying for the 2019 fellowship must submit applications no later than April 19 at http://www.militaryspouseafcpe.org/application.

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